The Unwitting Dining Companions, 1784

From the Dublin Morning Register, 23 February 1838, an interesting account of barrister-solicitor relations from the previous century, involving John Scott, Lord Clonmell (‘Copperface Jack’), John Fitzgibbon, Earl of Clare (‘Black Fitzgibbon’) and an unnamed impoverished solicitor:

“An anecdote of Fitzgibbon and Scott was related to the writer by a gentleman who knew the fact. After the elevation of these men to their new dignities, they were invited to dine with read more

Mr Hooks, 1862

From the Oxford Journal, 15 February 1862:

“An amusing breach of promise case came before the Dublin Court of Exchequer on Friday. The plaintiff is Miss Agnes Harrison, a lady of thirty-five summers, who resides with her brother in Armagh… the ungallant defendant, who rejoices in the euphonious name of Hooks, is one of the ‘ruling elders’ of the local Covenanting congregation, and has gone far beyond the allotted ‘three score years and ten’…

[S]o strange read more

A Pressing Communication, 1881

‘Pneumatic’ is not a word commonly used in relation to the Four Courts. However, for a brief period in the 19th century, the Sub-Post Office in the Four Courts was served by the longest pneumatic mail tube in the world.

The operation of this system of delivery, based on the transmission of letters and telegrams by air pressure within a tube, was summarised in the Freeman’s Journal of 5 September 1871:-

“a piece of paper rolled up in what is called a ‘carrier’ read more

The Wigmaker of Arran Quay, 1862

The Dublin Correspondent of the Belfast Newsletter, 13 January 1862, writes:

“I should chronicle the departure to his rest of a worthy and venerable citizen of Dublin, who saw in his time many an opening day of Term, and whose richly-stored memory was fraught with numberless anecdotes of the Irish Bar in its palmiest days, and of the old Four Courts in the Cathedral Close, where his career as wigmaker to the courts commenced some seventy-seven years ago.

Mr Peter Lavallee, to whom I allude, read more

The Bridge That Never Was, 1802

Saunders’s News-Letter of 31 December 1802 reported that

“[t]here is… a talk of casting a very broad bridge over the river in front of the Four Courts, which shall form an open area equal to the extent of the building; there will afford an opportunity to our architects of showing their genius by making various designs.”

A bridge in front of the new Four Courts certainly made sense from an aesthetic point of view. However, on 16 May 1808, a letter was published in the same read more

The Corridor between the Four Courts and Rear Yard Extension, 1857

The 1836 works to the Four Courts not only included fitting a new Law Library, Rolls Court and Nisi Prius Court into the back of the original building, but also involved the erection of an additional rear building comprising a Solicitors Building (situate where the current Law Library is today), Benchers’ rooms and coffee room and various Chancery offices and courts.

The construction of this rear edifice as a separate building linked to the main Four Courts by a small open passage caused read more

The First Barristers’ Robing Rooms, 1851

From the Dublin Weekly Nation, 14 August 1875, an illustration of the Liberator Daniel O’Connell exiting the original robing room of the Four Courts.

This room’s situation below the Round Hall rendered it vulnerable not only to flooding, but also to incursions by curious members of the public, one of whom was bold enough to publish the following letter of complaint in the Freeman’s Journal of 6 November 1851:

“During Term Time a person anxious for the encouragement read more

The First Law Library, 1850

The 1830 Law Library* formerly situate in the upper airspace of today’s Supreme Court was lit almost wholly from the roof – an elegant arrangement which, on at least one occasion, threatened not only the Bar’s safety but, even worse – its dignity!

As reported in the Dublin Weekly Mail (20 April 1850):

“A most extraordinary scene was presented in the Law Library of the Four Courts when hailstones burst over it. There were sixty or seventy barristers writing in the inside read more

The Gambling Devil, 1836

For young 19th century lawyers not yet able to afford their own carriages, the daily trip to the Four Courts not only posed health and safety risks but also – in circumstances where it was impossible to reach Inns Quay without passing at least one of the numerous gambling dens or ‘hells’ encircling it – devastating threats to their finances.

In Autumn 1836 the Dublin Freeman breathlessly reported that:

“[a] young man who previously held a lucrative situation in read more

Female Lay Litigant Insists on Being Described as a Lady, 1836

Female advocacy did not begin in 1919. Throughout the previous century, there run accounts of skirted lay litigants occasionally creating consternation in the manly precincts of the Four Courts.

As this story from Saunders’ Newsletter of 6 December 1836 shows, they could prove courageous opponents, capable of turning any point – including the approaching season of goodwill – to their advantage!

Mrs Reynolds, a loquacious good humoured woman, addressed the Court… read more